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Saturday 29th December 2012

Ah, what sweet joy. I completed the second draft of Rasputin at around four o' clock and sent it to my manager and my wife (two different people) to read. They both liked it, with a couple of caveats so I made some minor changes around midnight and then sent off the finished script. I really liked the first draft, but the revisions I was asked to make have definitely improved it. There's nothing more that I can do now, but I am cautiously optimistic. The powers that be have turned down scripts that I have thought were good before, but this one feels a little bit special. I've had a lot of fun with it this week and hope I get to do more with it. But don't hold your breath.
The best thing though was that it meant I am now free to enjoy the last couple of days of the year and my upcoming holiday with nothing hanging over my head. I think I've earned a break. It's been a busy and exhausting year, though I have ended it with a wife and a renovated house so I think the stress has been worthwhile. Of course I say I can relax, but I have to record one more snooker podcast before 2012 is done. You might not see that as work. But it is. Playing myself as snooker is a very important part of my job. I certainly don't do it for fun. And it's not fun. For anyone. I hope you're still listening. It is the best thing that I have ever done, but it takes about 15 frames for the Stockholm Syndrome to take its effect.
Full of good cheer and with a weight off my shoulders, we went to the theatre to see Twelfth Night starring Stephen Fry off of Twitter. I've always liked this play, which has some properly amusing comedy in it, but also always leaves a bit of a bad taste in the mouth as the comic heroes (spoiler alert) are actually a bit too nasty to Malvolio and Toby Belch's bullying and nastiness to Andrew Aguecheek make him an early incarnation of the successful Ricky Gervais character.
This was an all-male production for the play, which worked surprisingly well and by the end I was pretty much convinced that the female characters were really women. Mark Rylance, is once again hypnotically brilliant in this, getting proper belly laughs for jokes that I had not noticed before, but my favourite character is Fabian. It's mainly because I think this character (along with a few little errors, such as Sebastian forgetting that his twin Viola's thirteenth birthday is also his own) shows that Shakespeare was writing these plays pretty quickly, not expecting, I assume, that they'd still be being staged four hundred years later. Fabian only appears after a good hour of the play has already taken place, a sudden and new unexplained friend to Belch and Aguecheek, who more or less takes on an equal role to them after that. Why isn't he in it earlier? Does he fulfil much of a role that couldn't have been taken by Feste? Has Shakespeare confused the two? Sometimes I change a character's name in a script but a few instances of the old name stay - and Shakespeare didn't have the find and replace function on his scrolls. Fabian is a fairly pointless character, without much to make him stand out, especially next to the more obviously comedic Belch and Aguecheek double-act. But he did deliver one of the biggest laughs of the night after one of the gang's little pranks comes to fruition, stating, "If this were played upon a stage now, I could
condemn it as an improbable fiction." It was exactly the kind of deconstructive, post-modern and self-aware comment that I'd been putting in my Rasputin script. It's easy to forget that all the comedic tricks we might think we've invented have always been with us. Well done Fabian. You could only have bettered it by beginning to question where you'd been and what you might have been up to for the first hour of the play. Tom Stoppard might write a play about that.
It was a massively enjoyable three hours in the theatre, and when I got bored I was entertained by the woman in the row in front looking round annoyed every time my (ill) wife coughed, even though the woman herself was coughing a fair amount too.
Trigger from Only Fools and Horses played Andrew Aguecheek and did a good job, but no one is as perfect for that rule as my friend Ben Moor who played it in a University production. I'd love to see him do it again. He's as tall a man as any's in Illyria (unlike Trigger who isn't as tall as Stephen Fry). I've always thought this would be a good play for comedians to do. I wouldn't mind a crack at Toby Belch myself, if Gervais isn't available. Maybe they should be a Muppet version. Actually that'd be fucking awesome. Just get Animal playing the drums at the start "If music be the food of love, play on." Animal looks at camera. Plays more.
Fozzie as Feste (Fozzte), Ricky Gervais as Belch, Beaker as Aguecheek, Gonzo as Sebastian and a female Gonzo as Viola. Kermit as Orsino, Miss Piggy as Olivia. Sam Eagle as Malvolio. But who would play Fabian? I can't think of anyone. The project is off.

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